Fernando Alonso believes Aston Martin lost the chance to score points in the Brazil Sprint race due to the clash with Esteban Ocon that impacted his starting position.

Alonso’s involvement in the Sprint Shootout that determines the grid for the Saturday race was curtailed after he suffered extensive damage to the front-left of his car.

The Spaniard was progressing around Turn 3 when ex-Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon had to correct a moment on a fast lap which sent him hurtling towards the Aston Martin.

Although Alonso slowly recovered to the pits with a puncture, he was unable to return to the track at any stage of the delayed SQ2 segment, resigning him to 15th place.

Despite slicing his way through to 11th in the 24-lap encounter with several overtakes, Alonso was made to rue the earlier contact denting his hopes of a top-eight finish.

“Yeah it was [frustrating] because I think we had the good pace now, in the race we saw that we were fast,” he lamented.

“So yeah we lost our possibility to score a few points but the way it is it’s better that happened today and not in the main qualifying yesterday so let’s see tomorrow in the race if we can score big points.”

The stewards eventually decided that neither driver was “wholly or predominantly to blame”, leaving Alonso and Ocon to line up side-by-side at the start of the Sprint.

However, while Ocon placed the blame firmly on his rival, Alonso asserts that only one driver initiated the coming together.

“I don’t think it could go either way,” he stated. “I think he [Ocon] lost the car and unfortunately I was in the wrong place in the wrong moment but without losing the car you never go there but you know this is the way it is.”

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR23. 04.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sprint Day.

Alonso will share the second row of the grid with team-mate Lance Stroll on Sunday after Aston Martin expertly negotiated the changeable conditions in Friday’s qualifying.

The two-time World Champion believes that the British marque’s encouraging race pace in the shortened Sprint affair provided “promising” signs for the grand prix.

“Definitely we have to execute a good race tomorrow without any mistakes,” he acknowledged. “Hopefully a good start with the strategy so we can go through the first couple of laps without any incident and yeah let’s see the pace. You know it’s just enough to finish in the top five, top six, whatever we would take it.”

Prior to Sao Paulo, Aston Martin had encountered a troublesome previous two rounds which had been stymied by issues understanding its latest upgrade package.

Both Alonso and Stroll exited Q1 in the United States before the team sustained a double retirement in Mexico in a race where neither driver had threatened the points.

“Yeah it was hard because the triple race now obviously put a lot of stress on everyone,” Alonso noted.

“It’s difficult to analyse data, it’s difficult to go back to the factory and reunite everyone but the team was always working flat out to solve the problems and to find solutions and this performance here in Brazil is going in the right direction.”

Alonso concedes that Aston Martin sustaining a repeat of its recent struggles in Interlagos would have prompted him to become concerned by the team’s regression.

“I think especially after this race we have some kind of relief, some weight out of the shoulders from some people going into the right direction is a good boost for everyone in the factory and we really needed this type of performance here in Brazil,” he admitted.

“If we had another weekend struggling maybe that was a little bit worrying but we always kept pragmatic and doing some tests, some experiments even if they were painful. And hopefully we have a lot of data now to analyse everything.”

But having opted to combine old and new parts, Alonso insists the side have been more content with the performance of its AMR23 from the outset in Brazil.

“Yeah definitely I think we are more competitive,” Alonso beamed. “We are a little bit happier with the car. We seem more competitive as well since FP1 so some extra confidence into the race tomorrow.”

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